Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Washington (territory)
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WASHINGTON, a Territory of the United States, is the extreme north-western political subdivision of the Union (except the detached Alaska), and is bounded on the N. by the Canadian province of British Columbia, on the E. by Idaho Territory, on the S. by Oregon, and on the W. by the Pacific Ocean. It lies between 45º 40' and 49º 0' N. lat. and 117º 0' and 124º 44' W. long., and has a total land area within its boundaries of 66,880 square miles and a water area of 3114 square miles; its average length from east to west is 330 miles and from north to south is 220 miles. The Territory is divided by the Cascade Mountains into two unequal sections, which have very different climatic and physical characteristics and commercial and business interests. The climate is very mild, on account of the warm oceanic current from Japan which flows south along the coast. The moisture-bearing winds moving inland from the ocean are chilled against the Cascade Mountains, and cause the western section of the Territory to have a very heavy annual rainfall (about 53 inches), which is quite evenly distributed throughout the year. The summers are cool and pleasant and the winters mild; flowers bloom in the open air every month in the year, and the nights are always cool and refreshing. The climate in the western section is similar to that of Scotland. That of the eastern section is remarkable for clearness and brightness; it is hot and dry in summer, and has a brief and severe winter. The climate is tempered by a remarkable balmy wind, called the Chinook wind, coming over the mountains from the great Japanese current of the Pacific. In the summer it is a cool wind tempering the heat, and in the winter it is a warm wind, before which snow and ice disappear with marvellous rapidity.
The Cascade range is the local name of the extension through the Territory of the Sierra Nevada, the great and sharply-defined mountain chain which extends at a distance from shore of about 100 miles through the Pacific States and Territories (see vol. xxiii. pp. 800-1). To the north of the Columbia river the range widens out considerably into a region of high grassy mountain plateaus, of deep cañons, heavily timbered slopes, and high peaks of volcanic origin, furnishing mountain scenery of indescribable grandeur. The western slopes are covered with magnificent forests, principally of fir, the trees growing to an immense size. The mountain plateaus are from 3000 to 5000 feet in elevation, untimbered and covered with excellent grass, furnishing a large extent of valuable pasture-land. On the eastern slope the forests are more open, and consist principally of blue and yellow pine, tamarack, fir, and white cedar. The Northern Pacific Railroad reaches the sea by two routes, one of which goes down the Columbia river, and the other crosses the Cascade range by the Yakima Pass in 47º 20' N. lat.; this pass has an elevation of 3600 feet, and is in a region of beautiful deeply-embosomed lakes, the high cliff-like banks of which are crowned with splendid evergreen forests. To the north of the Yakima Pass the range becomes higher, and more rough and rugged than it is farther south. There seems to have been a volcanic centre between the Yakima and Wenatchee and about midway between the upper Yakima lakes and the Columbia, the highest peak of which is known as Mount Stuart, from which poured a grand flood of lava to the east and south, forming the elevated range between the Yakima and Wenatchee known as the Wenatchee Mountains, and crossing the present channel of the Columbia and forming Badger Mountain on the east. To the north of the 48th parallel, which is about the line of the Spokane river and the westward-flowing portion of the upper Columbia, the country changes, becoming more independent in its mountain formations, and the eastern jutting ranges of the Cascades meet and join with the earlier rock materials of the western spurs of the Rocky Mountains. Here the great interior basin may be considered as ending, for to the north the Rocky and Cascade ranges approach, and are blended in inextricable confusion. The principal rivers having their sources in the Cascade Mountains on the west are the Nooksack, Skagit, Steilaguamish, Snohomish, Puyallup, and Nisqually flowing into Puget Sound, the Chehalis flowing into Gray's Harbour, and the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers flowing into the Columbia; while on the east are the Methow, Chelan, Wenatchee, Yakima, and Klickitat, flowing into the Columbia. The mountains are well stocked with large game, as deer, bear, mountain sheep, mountain goats, wolves, panthers, foxes, &c., the valleys, plateaus, and lakes with feathered game, and the streams and lakes with trout and salmon.
The western section of the Territory lying between the Cascades and the ocean is the smaller of the two, and is covered with timber throughout nearly its entire extent. The principal natural feature is Puget Sound — one of the most beautiful sheets of salt water in the world, if not indeed the most beautiful. It is an arm of the sea joining the waters of the Gulf of Georgia and Strait of Juan de Fuca, and stretching about a hundred miles to the south into the heart of the country; it has a great number of bays, coves, inlets, and channels branching off from the main sound, altogether forming a collection of harbours unsurpassed in the world. The total area of the Sound is about 2000 square miles, with a shore-line of about 1600 miles. The water is very deep, in places more than 800 feet, the ordinary depths in the inlets and channels being from 300 to 600 feet. These depths in some places continue right up to the shore, so that vessels of the deepest draught could go and tie up to the trees on the banks as to a wharf. The tides in Puget Sound vary ordinarily from about 9 feet at Port Townsend to 15 feet or more at Olympia and the remote inlets. Along the shores, and for many miles back, the country is covered with the densest growth of very fine timber. The region of the Olympic Mountains lying between Puget Sound and the Pacific has never been explored to any extent, owing to the enormous difficulties of penetrating the forests, which, besides the standing trees, consist of masses of fallen timber and undergrowth. No rivers or creeks navigable for canoes penetrate any distance into it. There is no doubt that Puget Sound once extended much farther south, and occupied the Willamette valley of Oregon. Its retrogression has left large areas of low-lying land bordering the Sound and between it and the Columbia, which, when brought under cultivation, are found to be remarkably fertile. There are large areas of these low-lying lands covered with water at the highest tides which could be easily reclaimed by dyking; about 30,000 acres have been so reclaimed, and it is estimated that 150,000 acres besides can be thus improved. There are no good harbours along the Pacific coast of the Territory; but on the Straits of Juan de Fuca several fine ones exist. Western Washington is specially adapted to raising all the grasses, oats, hops, the root-crops, and fruits; whatever requires great heat does not ripen well.
Eastern Washington Territory differs in a very marked manner and in almost every material respect from the western section. South of the 48th parallel and east of the Cascades it is essentially a prairie country, which owes its origin to the great lava flow that covered eastern Oregon and northern California. This lava has disintegrated in the course of ages, and produced a soil which is unsurpassed in the world for richness. The region lying between the Blue Mountains and the Snake river, known as the Walla Walla country, and that between the Snake and the Spokane, known as the Palouse and Spokane countries, are noted for their fertility. This is also the case with the regions along the eastern foot-hills of the Cascades known generally as the Yakima and Kittitass countries. In these regions there is sufficient rainfall to enable the agriculturist to raise almost every product of the temperate zone of the finest quality and in the greatest abundance. Besides the cereals, such as wheat, oats, barley, flax, &c., there are grown grapes, apples, cherries, peaches, prunes, potatoes, both white and sweet, tobacco, cotton, broom corn, sorghum, peanuts, egg plants, &c. Over a large part of this eastern section, however, the rainfall is not sufficient, and irrigation must be resorted to. With irrigation properly conducted it is safe to say that nearly every foot of land now classed as desert will be found to be as productive as the regions more favoured by rain.
That part of eastern Washington Territory north of the Columbia and Spokane rivers is a region of low-timbered mountains and fertile valleys. This is mostly given up to the Indians, there being the two large reservations called the Columbia and Colville reservations stretching from the Cascade Mountains eastward to the southward-flowing portion of the Columbia, and embracing 7880 square miles of land. North of the Spokane river is the Colville country, which is open to settlement, and in which are much good land and large quantities of valuable timber.
The most important feature of eastern Washington is the Columbia river, which enters the Territory from British Columbia at about 117º 30' W. long., and pursues nearly a southerly course to the “Big Bend,” a distance of 110 miles, where it takes a westerly course, which it keeps for 93 miles until it receives the waters of the Okinakane, where it changes its course again to the south, keeping it for 224 miles, until it unites with its greatest tributary, the Snake river; from this point it keeps a westerly course, breaking through the Cascades, and entering the Pacific in lat. 46º 15'. It forms the boundary between Washington Territory and Oregon for this latter part of its course. The lower portion of the Columbia is described under Oregon (q.v). The upper part may be briefly described as a deeply cañoned river with numerous rapids and falls, which make it unnavigable and in all probability incapable of improvement. The Kettle Falls, near the northern boundary, are the most marked on the river, being about 25 feet at low water. Here each year the Indians from all directions gather on neutral ground to take salmon for their next year's subsistence. A salmon chief is elected, whose duties are to keep order and to divide equitably all the fish taken. The fish are taken in baskets as they try to jump the falls, those that fail falling back into the baskets. That part of the Columbia from the northern boundary-line to the “Big Bend” is the most beautiful portion of the river within the Territory, except where it breaks through the Cascades. Throughout this portion there is considerable bottom-land, and this and the neighbouring hills and mountains are well covered with fine open timber, with charming little grassy prairies scattered here and there. Below the Big Bend the cañon of the Columbia becomes more prominent, the timber recedes from the banks, and the channel narrows between basalt rocks, and in places is highly dangerous to anyone who entrusts himself upon the waters. The general depth of the cañon is about 2000 feet. Much gold is found in the sand bars and low terraces along the river.
The principal tributaries of the Columbia within the Territory are Clarke's Fork, the outlet of Lake Pend d'Oreille, an unnavigable stream flowing through a deep cañon, which enters the Columbia just above the northern boundary of the Territory. The Spokane river, one of the most important tributaries, is the outlet of Lake Coœur d'Alene, which drains a large extent of the Bitter Root Mountains. The Spokane, from the lake to Spokane Falls, a distance of about 30 miles, flows just below the level of a lovely prairie country; at the falls the river takes a plunge of 156 feet, and from there to the Columbia it flows through a deep cañon. These falls of the Spokane furnish one of the finest, most accessible, and most easily controlled water-powers in the world, and already they are utilized to a considerable extent for manufacturing purposes. The Okinakane is the next important tributary; it rises in British Columbia and flows southward through Lakes Okinakane and Osoyoos, and enters the Territory in 119º 30' W. long. Its course lies through a rich and inviting country. At its mouth was one of the most important of the old Hudson's Bay Company's trading posts. The Methow river, Lake Chelan and its outlet, and the Wenatchee are rivers of considerable magnitude, draining the eastern slopes of the Cascades. They are in a mountainous country presenting few attractions to the settler. The Yakima, which also comes from the Cascades, is of far greater importance, as about its headwaters is a large amount of fine agricultural land, and the river itself and its tributaries will ultimately furnish the water for irrigating an enormous extent of very fine land now virtually desert. Already large irrigating canals, having a total length of 325 miles, are projected, and work on them has been commenced.
The largest tributary of the Columbia, the Snake, joins it about 8 miles below the mouth of the Yakima. The Snake is navigable for the whole 150 miles of its course through the Territory, but has some difficult rapids. It flows through a cañon 1000 to 2000 feet deep, which it has cut for itself through the lava deposits.
An area nearly encircled by the Columbia, below the Big Bend, and the Snake, in the last 50 miles of its course, is known as the Great Plain of the Columbia. Its southern part is an alkaline nearly waterless desert, the principal vegetation being sage brush; the northern part is somewhat more elevated, and is for the most part a rich rolling grassy country intersected here and there by coules, or deep and almost vertical cuts, through the basalt rock underlying the soil. They indicate the former presence of large streams of water.
Forests. — Very valuable forests exist in every part of western Washington and in the northern part of eastern Washington. The sawmills on Puget Sound have a capacity of 350,000,000 feet per year, and the total capacity of the mills of the Territory is over 650,000,000 feet per year. The principal timber is yellow and red fir, ordinarily known as “Oregon pine,” which constitutes the bulk of the forests; white and red cedar, spruce, and larch also abound. White pine of magnificent size grows on the upper benches of the Cascade Mountains; white fir and hemlock are also found. Alder, maple, ash, oak, and cottonwood occur in abundance on the bottom-lands of western Washington, but are not equal to timber of the same names in the east. Bull pine, yellow pine, and tamarack grow on the eastern slopes of the Cascade range, and constitute the bulk of the forests of eastern Washington. They make a fair quality of lumber, but greatly inferior to the products of the western slopes and the Pacific coast regions.
Fisheries. — The salmon fisheries of the Columbia river, Shoalwater Bay, Gray's Harbour, and Puget Sound form one of the leading industries of the Territory. The preservation of salmon in cans was commenced in 1866 on the Columbia river, and the business rapidly increased, so that now the annual value of the pack is from 2 to 2½ million dollars.
Mines and Mining. — The mineral resources of the Territory are very great upon both sides of the Cascade Mountains. There are large tracts of valuable coal-lands between Puget Sound and the Cascades, stretching all the way from Bellingham Bay on the north to the Chehalis valley on the south. The veins at present worked vary from 5 to 12 feet in thickness, and in quality from lignite to bituminous coal, some of which produces gas and coke of superior excellence. Mines are also worked on the eastern slope of the Cascades about the head of the Yakima river. The present known area of coal-lands in the Territory is about 180,000 acres, and the total shipments for the year ending June 30, 1887, amounted to 525,705 tons. The supply of coal for the Pacific coast is mainly drawn from the beds in Washington Territory and their continuation in British Columbia.
There are large deposits of valuable iron ore in the western part of the Territory and in the Snoqualmie Pass. Brown haematite iron ore is found in Skagit county, magnetic ore in King county, and bog iron ore of the best quality in several counties, notably Jefferson, King, and Pierce; but these deposits have not yet been worked to any great extent. There can be no question, however, that the existence of coal, iron, and timber in the near vicinity of Puget Sound must make this a great manufacturing and ship-building centre. Limestone is found in great abundance on San Juan Island, in the Puyallup valley, and in the north-eastern part of the Territory. Copper and lead are found in different localities.
The northern part of eastern Washington abounds in mines of the precious metals, and these are now being worked on quite an extensive scale. In the Colville district (between the Columbia, Clarke's Fork, and Spokane rivers) the prevailing country rock is limestone, and the prevailing mineral is argentiferous galena; at some points grey copper ore is found carrying both silver and lead, and in others silver chlorides are found. The development of these mines has been delayed by lack of railway facilities, but this will be remedied in a short time by lines now projected and incorporated.
The Kettle river district lies to the west of the Columbia, and in regions about the headwaters of the river. The mines are very varied in their character, comprising placer gold, gold quartz, copper, and galena with carbonates. Some of the placer mines have yielded heavily, the gold being coarse and obtained by ground sluicing. Very valuable quartz ledges, assaying 80 to 2000 ounces of gold per ton, have been discovered in a formation of granite and slate.
The Okinakane district comprises the mines in the vicinity of the Okinakane, Salmon, and the Similkameen rivers and Osoyoos lake. Here the formation is granite, syenite, and porphyry, and the ores are galena, grey copper, and quartz, carrying sulphurets and native silver.
The city of Spokane Falls, on the Northern Pacific Railroad, is the distributing point for all these mines, as well as for the Cœur d'Alene mines in northern Idaho.
Shipbuilding. — Shipyards exist at Seattle and Tacoma, and at other points on Fuget Sound, at Gray's Harbour and Shoalwater Bay, and on the Columbia river. The vessels constructed are mainly schooners for the lumber-carrying trade; many of them also are provided with auxiliary steam-power. All raw materials for their construction are found in the vicinity. The yellow fir of the northern Pacific ranks next to oak for strength and durability, and constitutes excellent material for shipbuilding. Vessels of 4854 tons were built during 1886, and the industry is rapidly growing.
Commerce. — The principal articles of export are lumber, coal, wheat, and salmon, and their annual value is from 8 to 10 millions of dollars. In the year from July 1886 to June 1887 the total entrances at Puget Sound were 994 vessels (539,597 tons), and the clearances 988 (514,441 tons).
Railways. — Washington Territory was the last of the political subdivisions of the United States to be reached by railroads. In 1883 the Northern Pacific was completed and direct rail connection secured with the east.
Education. — There are about a thousand common schools in the Territory, under the supervision of a superintendent of public in struction and a board of education of three persons, all of whom are appointed by the governor. In each county, county superintendents and a board of county examiners visit the schools and report to the superintendent of public instruction. There is held each year a territorial teachers institute, and local teachers institutes are also held in different sections. These common schools are supported by county taxes and by certain criminal fines. Special taxes are also permitted in counties under certain conditions. There are at present about 65,000 children under instruction, at a cost of about $500,000 per annum.
The general Government has set aside for educational purposes one-eighteenth of all the land in the Territory, comprising about 2½ million acres. This land, however, does not become available until the Territory becomes a State. All children must attend school at least three months in the year.
There is a university at Seattle, supported by large animal appropriations of the legislature. It has four departments at present: literature, science, and the arts; law; medicine; and military instruction. There are also twenty-four higher institutions of learning scattered throughout the Territory, consisting of colleges, seminaries, and academics, most of which are under sectarian control, and some of which have already a liberal endowment.
Churches. — All the leading Christian sects are well represented in the Territory, their membership and value of church property being about in the order given below: Methodist Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Protestant Episcopal, Congregational, Baptist, Presbyterian, Christian, Lutheran, German Reformed, and Unitarian.
Government. — The administrative affairs of the Territory are in the hands of a governor, secretary, and chief justice, all appointed by the president of the United States, and a treasurer and comptroller and an upper and lower legislative house elected by the people. The Territory is represented in Congress by a delegate also elected by the people.
Population. — The total population, 75,116 in 1880, was 143,669 (84,470 males, 59,199 females) according to the census taken in 1886 and 1887, classified as follows: whites, 137,430; blacks, 254; mulattoes, 69; Chinese, 2584; Indian half-breeds, 3288; and Kanakas, 44. In addition to these there are about 11,000 Indians. The total population is now (1888) about 175,000. The capital is Olympia, and the chief city Seattle, both on Puget Sound.
Banks. — There are in the Territory 18 national banks, with a capital of $1,430,000, 5 territorial banks, with a capital of $355,000, and also a number of private banks.
History. — The first event in history relating to Washington Territory was the discovery, in 1592, of the Strait of Juan de Fuca by an old Greek pilot of that name in the service of Spain. In 1775 Captain Hecata, a Spanish navigator, discovered the mouth of the Columbia, but was unable to enter the river. Captain Kendrick, an American navigator, in 1789 sailed into the Strait of Fuca and through the Gulf of Georgia and Queen Charlotte Sound to the Pacific, and was the first to clearly make known the character of these inland waters. On the 11th of May 1792 Captain Gray, of the American ship “Columbia,” sailed into and explored for about 15 miles the great river to which he gave the name of his ship. This first entrance into the Columbia river gave the United States their principal claim to the territory drained by the river, and is thus a very important episode in the history of the Oregon region, which formerly comprised the present State of Oregon and the Territories of Washington and Idaho. In October of the same year (1792) an Englishman, Lieutenant Broughton, sailed up and examined the Columbia for about 100 miles from its mouth. The coast soon became quite well known, and the Government of the United States fitted out a number of expeditions to obtain a knowledge of the interior. The most important of these was that of Lewis and Clarke, who were directed to ascend the Missouri, cross the Rocky Mountains, and trace the Columbia from its sources to the sea. They began the ascent of the Missouri in 1804, and spent the winter of 1804-5 at Fort Mandan. In the next season, after incredible hardships and great sufferings, they crossed the Rocky Mountains, and reached the Clearwater river. Here they made boats, and proceeded down it, the Snake river, and the main Columbia, reaching the Pacific in December 1805. They returned by nearly the same route.
The next important era in the history of the Territory was the attempt of J. J. Astor to establish a fur-trading empire on the Columbia and its tributary lands and streams. Two expedition were sent out in 1810 for this purpose, one by land and one by sea. The latter reached the Columbia in 1811, and established a trading post at Astoria near the mouth of the river. The land expedition reached this post in 1812. In the meantime, in hopes of forestall ing Astor's expeditions, the North-West Fur Company sent a party in 1810 to cross the mountains and reach the mouth of the Columbia before them. This expedition experienced great difficulty in crossing the mountains in 52º N. lat., but in the spring of 1811 they reached the Columbia, and went down to its mouth, where they found Astor's sea party already established. This North-West Fur Company's expedition was the first to navigate the upper Columbia, or to traverse any part of the country drained by it. In 1813 the fortunes of war compelled the transfer of the Astor Fur Company to the North-West Fur Company. Henceforward for many years the history of the Territory is the history of the operations of the great North-West and Hudson's Bay Companies, and of the effort of private parties to get a share in the profits of the fur trade. A number of trading posts were built, and exploring and trading expeditions sent into all parts of the country. Missionaries began to arrive, and emigrants to drift in by sea and land.
During all the years in which this region was first being explored and settled, a dispute had been going on between the United States and Great Britain in regard to its ownership, which at different times waxed so fierce as to threaten war. Finally an arrangement was arrived at, and in 1846 the treaty was signed fixing the boundary-line at the 49th parallel. The Territory of Oregon (comprising Washington, Idaho, and Oregon) was formed in 1848, and General Joseph Lane, the first Territorial governor, arrived in 1849, after which United States courts were established. The present Territory of Washington was established in 1853, and its first governor was Isaac I. Stevens.
The settlement of the Territory has been slow, on account of its remoteness and the fact that it has had no great mining excitement to attract adventurous settlers. Since the advent of railroads, however, its development has been rapid. (T. W. S.)